Sureshnie Rider: I save for the luxuries and I try to pay things off in cash.

Sureshnie Rider is on air personality on 5fm from 9am till 3pm. She hosts the news on The Thando Thabooty Show, and you can also catch her with Forbes and Fix from 1pm till 4pm. Sush as she is affectionately known on air, is a qualified journalist who has worked in radio, panning Campus Radio (Durban Youth Radio), Regional (P4 Radio), PBS (Lotus fm) and now National being 5fm. In this interview she talks about her money habits.

In this economic climate, have you downsized your lifestyle at all?
I try to be diligent with list making before I go shopping. Often 'aisle shopping' is what throws my budget off. So now, I shop for only what I need, and not what I want, and this has helped with savings.

What are you doing to remain positive about your family's financial well-being during these tough times?  
I try to remain positive by instilling better savings value. instead of buying lots of little gifts all the time to spoil them. I try save more, and then surprise them with something big and something special. That way, I also don't waste money on trivial things, but also buy things that will become an investment or last much longer. So there are always treats along the way.

Do you and your husband share equal responsibility when it comes to your household finances?
Yes we do, and that is an important part of our marriage. We are both equally invested, and equally involved.

Out of all your responsibilities (bills, groceries, etc) , what do you find to be the most expensive nowadays?
I'm finding groceries and the cost of food extremely exorbitant. I usually calculate by heart the basic costs of bread, milk, sugar etc, and now I often do a double take. I was shocked to see the cost of broccoli, rocketing up to R46! Wow....and those are healthy, easily available vegetables. This makes me question those costs to a customer.

How do you save money when income from your kind of work is variable?
 I use a spare account that might be under a different bank to the one that maybe has all my debits etc. So If I have a gig that might pay well, I work out what the priority for spending that month might be, and maybe deposit half there. Sometimes I use that account as a dedicated 'gift' account. As a parent, I spend most of my time and money buying prezzies for my little one's friends birthday parties. So If I start to put a few extra rands every month in that spare account, it doesn't eat into my 'grocery budget'.

How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money?
I have always been afraid of money. We didn't have much growing up, but my parents always instilled the idea of saving for a 'rainy day'. I'm always afraid of losing money or not having enough, so that creates a little fear in me. It inspires me though, to always work hard to find the 'rainy day' money.
My mum and dad run their own business, and as a kid I earned a 'wage' for working every single weekend and every single holiday. At the end I would use that money to buy something just for myself. I always appreciated those items more because I worked very hard for them. My parents also instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and I try my best to pass on that knowledge to my child and not spoil her out of guilt because I might have had a little more than my folks did at the time.

How have you changed your spending, saving, etc., as a result of being a mother? 
I never knew how costly parenting would be. That's a reality many parents don't realise sometimes. The cost of education, food, medicine, nanny, clothes, extra curricular and savings. When I fell pregnant, I started putting money into that 'spare account' as a 'just in case' account. There is always a 'just in case' moment for a mum, and I'm still learning to do it correctly. I try to spend more cautiously. I also shop around now for the better bargains and I ask other mums for advice on what they buy. I am also training myself not to indulge or splurge just because it is on sale. This is where a lot of us tend to fall into traps of running over a budge.

How do you define financial independence? 

Being able to pay for a roof over your head, petrol in your car, food in the fridge and being completely debt free. If you're able to pay for something without worrying about taking it on credit or lay-by, then I think you're on the right track. I don't own a single credit account! I save for the luxuries, and I try to pay things off in cash.

What is your number one financial priority right now? 

My child's education and my pension. I have not saved enough for those, so I have started to school myself on good polices and try put money in there, so that I am sufficiently covered.

Do you sometimes have money blocks and how do you deal with them? 
I have them regularly. When My husband and I were first dating, he taught me a little trick. He would look at my available money and then divide it by the number of days left in the month. He would then give me and envelope and I sometimes would have to use the only R20 note in that envelope. He has taught me how to survive and make that R20 last longer. I also started working out that I didn't have to spend that R20 on one day. If I saved it smartly, that money would get to R100 in a few days. I still use that concept today whenever I have a tough freelancer month.

Have you ever been broke and how did you did deal with that period of your life? 
Yes, and my husband's 'envelope method' taught me how to overcome that tough time. When I left the comfort of my family home to move to Joburg, everything changed for me. I had to buy my own food, and do a lot on my own, that was done for me whilst staying with my folks. I vowed that I would never ever ask for financial help, not even one brown cent. And 14 years later, I can proudly say, that I have not borrowed from my family to get by. I just learnt to do without and make plans.

Why do you think we so easily fall into debt these days?
Our lifestyles are demanding. We want what we see. There are so many flashy malls opening up, and we all want to be part of that lifestyle, or have some of it. So if we can't have it immediately, we find ways of getting 'cards' we don't need. We buy things in the hope of 'paying' it back. Then we find ourselves in another sale and what do you know, you're now paying credit upon credit.

If you have the choice between buying a home or investing in shares, which would you choose and why?
I am so happy we bought our home. Our home is everything. It is security that I know sometimes a share might not give me. But it's my guaranteed investment, and I know when I'm ready and paid off the house, I will use that 'bond money' to invest in shares.

What does 'comfortable retirement' mean to you? 

That my husband and I will have a safe place to stay, with access to the best medical care and that we won't be stressing about our child and her future.

What’s the worst money mistake you’ve ever made, if you’ve made any? What did you learn from it? 
I once trusted a family member with insurance and invested in something that wasn't going to last long. I lost 7 years of monthly premiums and interest. I have now learnt to read the fine print, ask questions and ask for statements and updates.

What was the last item you regretted purchasing? 
I often regret my gym membership. I always get excited for the first two months and then I'm stuck paying something that I hardly make time to use.

Do you have a budget? Why? Why not? 

Yes. I now have a budget as a parent. When it was just my husband and I, it was easy to splurge on things. Now that we are three, my focus is giving my child the best start, but also making sure I have enough to pay for things like medical and school fees, and her necessities.

What tools or resources do you rely on to keep your own personal finances in order? 
I keep a journal/accounting book. I literally write down all of my spending every month. I make graphs on what I have spent on, and what I need to save for. I also use a few apps, that have been super effective in helping me draw out a physical budget and also keep to it.
I make lists for everything, I'm sure my list has a list;) But this has helped me so much more when walking into the local shop for groceries. I walk out with only necessities.

Do you have rules for lending money to friends or family? 
Yes...I don't lend to family or friends. After losing money with a relative over insurance, it made things very awkward, and I don't ever want to experience that again.

What are your money tips for our readers?
Download savings apps, use a journal or a diary to document your spending. Christmas and Diwali are two special occasions as well as birthdays. So every month, I try look for bargains/deals on certain items, and stock them in a 'gift cupboard'. So if I start buying things from January, by the time we reach Christmas, there are already 12 presents for 12 people. I try to save at least R100 every month. It's tiny but it's something for my 'rainy day'.

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